Good communication is the art of sending and receiving a clear message. We are all continuously sending and receiving messages to and from one another. Even when we don’t talk or write, we are sending a message we want a separation from the other person. It it impossible not to communicate, but we can communicate poorly.
The most important factor in a marriage is good communication. While finances, sex or other issues may be the topic of heated discussions, marital dissatisfactions, and even breakups, the inability of a couple to communicate and find a solution is the root of the problem. So how can you and your spouse communicate more effectively?
5 keys to good communication in marriage
***** These are adapted from chapter of 4 in “Getting Ready for Marriage Workbook” by Jerry Hardin and Dianne Sloan.
1. Take time for one another.
In this busy world, you will find more and more areas of life demanding your time. It is not uncommon to make time or take time for less important commitments than sharing with the most important person in your life – your spouse. It is important to set aside a regular time for the two of you to listen and share with one another. For my wife and I, we do this we before we go to bed.
2. Speak for yourself.
Be aware of your own thoughts and feelings and be responsible for communicating those to each other. No one can speak for you, except you! Use “I” messages: “I feel sad because …”; “I think we need to take this approach because …”; “I am really hurting right now.”; “Let me tell you how I see this situation”; “This is how I feel.”
Good communication comes from clearly expressing your own feelings and thoughts to each other in words, tone of voice, body language, or actions. All of these communicate your feelings and thoughts. Just remember, speak only for yourself!
3. Understand that your spouse’s perceptions are different from yours.
You will never see everything exactly the same way because you come from different families and different ways of life. Different does not mean “wrong”; it does not mean “bad”; it just means “different.” Sometimes you have to agree to disagree. You may have to say, “Well, I guess we really see that differently.”
Good communication comes when you value and take the time to understand your differences. When you respect the perceptions of your spouse, you are saying, “Who you are and what you think is important to me.”
4. Really listen.
Listen – not only to what is said, but to the total message being sent. Remember, less than half of your message is communicated verbally, through words and tone of voice. It is important to listen to the non-verbal body messages as well, for those messages will frequently give you the clues as to how your spouse is feeling.
5. Check out what your spouse is saying.
This process is accomplished by letting your partner know what you heard him or her say and asking if you correctly understood it. This allows your spouse to correct any misunderstandings. Checking out reduces mind reading and misinterpretation – a trap many couples fall into. Remember you can only speak for yourself. If you mind read, you are speaking for your spouse! Checking out also lets the other person know you have been listening attentively and that you value him or her to make sure you understand what is being discussed.
What other keys to good communication can you think of?